More than 3,000 Christmas wreaths were laid on the headstones of fallen soldiers at Fort Snelling National Cemetery as part of the national Wreaths Across America campaign.
Hundreds of volunteers and military families gathered at the historic cemetery on December 14 for the annual event. Similar ceremonies were carried out at Arlington National Cemetery and more than 2,100 additional locations in all 50 U.S. states.
According to Transport America, a trucking company that helps ship the wreaths across the country, more than 3,600 wreaths were laid on the headstones of deceased veterans at Fort Snelling, which was first created in 1870 as a burial place for soldiers who died while stationed at the fort, according to the Minnesota Historical Society.
It was formally dedicated as a national military cemetery on July 14, 1939, and now comprises more than 436 acres that contain the graves of over 180,000 men and women in uniform.
Remember, Honor, Teach. Thank you to everyone who joined us today for such a successful and memorable experience at Fort Snelling! 3600 wreaths were laid on the headstones by our TA Family today because it is our honor to do so #changingtrucking #veterans #transportamerica pic.twitter.com/ySGsbHRVwp
— Transport America (@TAdrivers) December 14, 2019
Wreaths Across America began as an organic movement in 1992 when Morrill Worcester, owner of Worcester Wreath Company in Maine, was approaching the end of the Christmas season with a surplus of wreaths. He reached out to former Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe who helped him make arrangements to have the wreaths placed on headstones at Arlington National Cemetery.
Worcester continued his military tribute every year but the movement didn’t pick up national attention until 2005 when a photo of a wreath-covered Arlington went viral.
“Thousands of requests poured in from all over the country from people wanting to help with Arlington, to emulate the Arlington project at their national and state cemeteries, or to simply share their stories and thank Morrill Worcester for honoring our nation’s heroes,” states a history of the organization.
The Civic Air Patrol now helps carry out the operation across the country and Worcester continues to send seven wreaths to each state — one for each branch of the military and for POW/MIAs.
The organization managed to cover the entirety of Arlington National Cemetery in 2014 after distributing 226,525 wreaths to each grave. The U.S. Congress even recognized December 13 as “Wreaths Across America Day” in a 2008 bill.
See photos below of the Fort Snelling event:
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo “Wreaths by Headstones” by stonehenger68.